Hodgson defends selection policy
Roy Hodgson insists he is not offering the prospect of an England future for Ryan Shawcross and Carl Jenkinson to stop them playing elsewhere. Shawcross has been named as Hodgson's fourth centre-half for this month's World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland. In addition, Hodgson hinted Jenkinson will receive his first call-up for the friendly against Sweden in Gothenburg on November 14. Both players have a choice about where to commit their international futures, with Shawcross eligible for Wales and Finland hoping to persuade Jenkinson to play for them. Shawcross has already expressed a preference for England, whilst Jenkinson is bound to lean the same way once he realises how close he is to being picked. Yet Hodgson is adamant he has not made his move as a blocking tactic. "It wouldn't be fair for national teams to 'sign someone up' and try and block them, knowing they don't particularly want them themselves," he said. "I've called up Shawcross because he has a genuine chance of playing for us and deserves to be in the squad. Wales didn't come into my thinking at all. "I am aware Finland are after Jenkinson. I spoke to Mixu Paatelainen and he mentioned it. "But he's on our radar and someone we're keen to explore." Indeed, Jenkinson came close to being picked this time around given Glen Johnson is suspended for the San Marino game. Instead, Hodgson went for Jenkinson's Arsenal team-mate Kieran Gibbs, who has replaced Chelsea's Ryan Bertrand, with Aaron Lennon and Celtic keeper Fraser Forster the other surprises in a 25-man squad. "We know a lot about Forster but haven't seen a lot of him close hand," said Hodgson. "Shawcross has been doing well for Stoke over a period of time and Aaron Lennon has started the season exceptionally well. "Kieran Gibbs, like Jenkinson, has started very well for Arsenal. On this occasion, we decided to go with him and keep Jenkinson up our sleeves but he'll be very much in our thoughts when it comes to the next friendly match. "After speaking to Arsene (Wenger) I am also conscious that his rise has been meteoric. "He's only 20 and it's nice to temper things a little bit, but he wouldn't be out of place in the squad." Shawcross' only previous call-up came under Fabio Capello in March 2010. At the time, the Stoke man had a poor public profile due to the tackle that broke Aaron Ramsey's leg. Evidently Shawcross did not impress as he neither earned his first cap against Egypt, nor was picked by the Italian again. The accusation of being over-physical has continued to dog the former Manchester United trainee. Hodgson believes it is unwarranted. "He's captain of Stoke," said Hodgson. "When you captain a team, it shows you have certain qualities and the people running Premier League clubs are not stupid. "Like all centre-backs, he'll be accused of overstepping the mark from time to time. But that would be a harsh criticism." Depending upon the judgement of Shawcross, it could easily be argued his presence in the squad for such important games highlights the lack of depth available to Hodgson. He does not quite view in that way. In addition to John Terry and Rio Ferdinand, who are no longer available to him, Hodgson has Tottenham's Steven Caulker on England Under-21 duty, plus injured Manchester United duo Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. "We've got Michael Carrick in this squad who can always go back there, whilst Jones and Smalling are very interesting centre-halves who are not available," he said. "Our current 'plight' could rapidly change by the next two qualifiers in March." By then, Jack Wilshere may also be available after finally beginning his comeback after an absence stretching back 16 months. That would raise a very interesting question about Frank Lampard's status given Hodgson's declaration that he is not willing to select Ferdinand as a squad man. It is a question the England manager is understandably happy to delay until such time as Wilshere starts playing to his potential. "It's great to see Jack back, but it's naïve to think he'll walk back into being what he wants," said Hodgson. "I don't have a hard and fast policy but I would suggest that when a player loses his place in the team after 100 games, he might not want to be a squad member. "At the moment, Frank is in the team and doing well at Chelsea."
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